Clippers 2015-16 Player Preview: Branden Dawson


2014-15 NCAA Statistics

11.9 points, 53 FG%, 49 FT%, 9.1 rebounds 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.7 blocks.

Last Season

Branden Dawson starred for the Michigan State Spartans as a senior last season, helping lead them to the Final Four.

The 6’6″, 225 pound forward was a key component in the Spartans’ run, thanks to his high-end athleticism, hustle and ability to defend four positions. Dawson’s energy was infectious and helped him pull down 11 rebounds in the Sweet Sixteen against No. 2 seed Virginia and again in the Elite Eight versus No. 3 seed Louisville.

Tom Izzo was not shy to give his opinion on Dawson during the Final Four, according to Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News:

"He can defend it, no question about that. I think the advantages to open practices are you get to see that he has improved. You watch him shoot free throws at the end of the year, it’s not even close. You watch him shoot jump shots, it’s not even close. There’s the still the consistency factor. But I see this group at the next level that drafts guys on potential. And Branden Dawson’s not only got potential, but he’s, just because a year or two older than some, he’s also had those injuries that set him back some."

Dawson does have some potential left, especially based on his defensive ability and considering he has an elite skill; rebounding. The undersized forward led the Big Ten conference in rebounding and was the first person 6’6″ and under to do so in 26 years.

Finally, Dawson was rewarded for his hard work, being named All-Big Ten second team and first team all-defense.

2015 Summer League Highlights

The first game of Dawson’s professional career just happened to occur on the Fourth of July and was as exciting as the fireworks displays around the country that evening.

Dawson scored 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in his Los Angeles Clippers debut. Just as expected, his energy, athleticism and rebounding was on full display.

Over the course of the Orlando Summer League, Dawson averaged 12.8 points and 10.2 rebounds. He finished second in the league in rebounding, behind Aaron Gordon, proving he is capable of filling a role on a NBA team this fall.

2015-16 Clippers Season Preview

The Clippers have a wealth of talent on the roster this season, which makes the outlook for Dawson bleak. No matter if you consider him a small or power forward, the depth chart is deep.

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Dawson definitely has the ability to defend on the wing, as he is quick laterally and has the athleticism to help, rotate, contest shots and run the floor. He is a bit undersized to play on the wing full-time and his offensive repertoire is nonexistent outside the paint.

Still, he could be a situational wing defender, but would have to compete for minutes with Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson and likely Austin Rivers or Jamal Crawford at times.

Overall, Dawson looks like a better fit as a power forward. If you have Draymond Green thoughts popping in year head, burst that bubble right now.

Again, Dawson is undersized and strong, but has no where near the ability to shoot from the perimeter like Green, let alone handle the ball or display a high-level passing and creation from the position.

Dec 14, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) blocks shot of Oakland Golden Grizzlies guard Kahlil Felder (20) during the 2nd half of a game at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Dawson has the strength, decent length and enough athleticism to compete against power forwards, especially in one of the Clippers’ possible small-ball lineups. His strong rebounding would shine in this role, as he consistently crashes the boards hard. Not to mention, he is physical enough to defend in the paint and quick enough to step out on the perimeter or hedge and recover against pick-and-rolls.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely Dawson will play much of a role for the Clippers this season. Still, he should prepare himself to be ready for a situational role due to his defense and rebounding, especially when the eventual injury occurs in the frontcourt.

Overall, his minutes will be limited, but Doc Rivers does have the roster flexibility to manipulate lineups and it certainly would benefit him and the team to at least see how Dawson performs as the season progresses.

Next: Clippers 2015-16 Player Preview: Lance Stephenson